Should all custody cases be joint custody?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Custody on Friday, January 17, 2014.

Child custody is often a complex issue in most divorces. In a marriage, many of the decisions regarding the children’s affairs, from where they go to the doctor to who picks them up after football or dance practice can be decided ad hoc. They may be driven by what is most convenient or what make the most sense, and they can be inherently fluid.

After a divorce, there is no longer any spontaneity. The child custody agreement will lay out in the parenting plan all aspects of the children’s lives. You will have to determine the type of custody. In Missouri, joint custody is preferred, meaning the child or children will spend equal amounts of their time with both parents.

While the legislature can suggest that joint custody should be the norm, it does not always work out that way. In Nebraska, some legislators were concerned that joint or shared custody was only being used in about 30 percent of cases in that state. Why that might be the case is complex.

Research has shown that children who spend equal amounts of time with each parent do better, both physically and emotionally. They also perform better in school.

This is not really surprising, because for this type of parenting plan to work, the parents must move beyond their divorce and focus on raising their children. They must be willing to cooperate as they co-parent.

Unfortunately, for some parents, this level of cooperation is not possible, and all the encouragement by the legislature is unlikely to change that.

However, if you want to share custody, you will need to work out a parenting plan with your attorney. The child’s other parent must agree to the plan, and it must be viable, in that it works with your children’s schedules.

A poorly thought out parenting plan could make the situation worse and exacerbate the potential for conflict, which is never good for children.

Source:, “Nebraska state senator urges action on child custody inequality,” Joe Duggan, January 13, 2014

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